President announces campus absence

His departure raises questions about who will preside over major events

Shauna Muckle, Editor-in-Chief

Washington and Lee President Will Dudley will work entirely remotely for the rest of the school year. His departure will allow him to remain in Massachusetts with his child, who has a “serious health issue.”
Dudley announced his departure in an April 4 email to the campus community.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding as I attend to my family,” Dudley wrote. “The support that I feel from the community reinforces my already deep devotion to Washington and Lee. I look forward to returning to Lexington as soon as possible.”
Already, Dudley has had to take time away from Lexington during winter term to care for his child, he said in his email.
The president has three primary roles: administration, travel and event appearances, Provost Lena Hill said. While Dudley can accomplish the administrative aspects of his job remotely, other university officials will have to step in on an “as-needed” basis for events, and some travel may be postponed, Hill said.
But Hill said major events will “continue as planned.”
“We’re all very devoted and dedicated to making sure that every member of this community continues to feel like special things that are unique to W&L go as smoothly and happily as possible,” she said.
Senior leaders still haven’t decided who will preside over the baccalaureate service and commencement at graduation, a task usually reserved for the president. Hill said that decision will come “sooner rather than later.”
So far, corresponding by Zoom and email, not face-to-face, hasn’t impeded Dudley’s oversight of his team of vice presidents and the provosts, Hill said.
“He has been doing and continues to do a remarkable job being closely, intimately engaged with our work,” she said. “A different leader couldn’t step away and work remotely.”
Dudley expressed regret in his April 4 correspondence that he would not appear at campus events during spring term.